Upfront: Apogee

A night / mix series focused on techno, EBM and all things industrial, Apogee now have a bi-monthly residency at Rye Wax. We sat down with founder / resident Abstraction to talk about their ethos, radio, residents, punk, and Jaded after parties. 

“Dance music has always been a counter-culture movement, sticking two fingers up and welcoming all the misfits and weirdos who don’t quite belong anywhere else.”

You started the night up north in Loughborough a couple of years ago, could you tell us a bit about how Apogee came to be?

So I went to uni at Loughborough, the main party in the town was DBE, they had a really versatile music policy and tried to cater to everybody’s tastes from house & techno through to DnB and grime. Those were the nights where I first went out and properly experienced club culture. The promoter (Pasquale) took me under his wing and I used to help out in the office, he also put me on for my first ever “proper” set outside of somebody’s front room.

My tastes developed and I really fell in love with the darker, harder end of the techno spectrum. Through helping out with DBE, and with Pasq’s advice, I thought it would be great to start up a night that was pushing that sound 100%, from start to finish, so Apogee was born.

We started out in pub basements, any venue that would take us really, just me and the residents playing stuff we loved to proper up for it crowds over big systems. I moved down to London about 18 months ago and decided to kickstart Apogee down here – sticking to the same guiding principles, with the same residents, but introducing headliners into the mix.

Your bookings and mixes seem to focus on a bit of a punk aesthetic – what do EBM and post punk mean to Apogee?

As I started exploring techno and it’s various branches more and more the sound that really resonated with me was new-school industrial and EBM from the likes of Aufnahme + Weidergabe, Fleish Records and Sonic Groove, alongside really driving techno from Downwards, Voitax and Leyla Records.

The punk attitude this kind of techno embraces really struck me. Dance music has always been a counter-culture movement, sticking two fingers up and welcoming all the misfits and weirdos who don’t quite belong anywhere else. That’s the kind of energy we try and bring to Apogee.

How would you describe the sound you’re trying to push?

We’re trying to push the cutting edge of industrial techno and all of its twisted cousins. On a typical night you can expect to hear everything from chugging EBM and noise through to 140+ industrial techno and full on hardcore – the attitude is what ties the tracks together.

You booked VTSS for her UK debut at Rye Wax last year and she’s had a crazy year since. Is pushing up and coming artists something you’re looking to continue?

Booking up and coming artists is definitely high on our agenda. When Martyna (VTSS) came and played for us all I’d heard were a few mixes on Soundcloud, she hadn’t actually had any releases out, but it was obvious she was going to be something special. Her live set still stands up as one of the best I’ve witnessed, it’s great to see she’s since been booked at FOLD and Corsica, not to mention playing Säule at Berghain.

We’re not trying to compete with the bigger, more established nights in the city – we want to be a place where people can come with an open mind to see an artist that they may not have heard of, safe in the knowledge they are worth getting to know – something we hope is reflected in our upcoming 2019 programme.

You’ve got a regular slot at Rye Wax now; what sort of approach have you got planned for the future?

We love Rye Wax – 100cap, low ceilings, big system – it’s exactly what we’re all about. We’re lucky enough to have been given a regular slot on the second Friday of every second month, we want to keep pushing cutting edge industrial in typical Apogee DIY style and getting to know the local crowd that come through to dance with us.

The Apogee mix series has seen a wide array of artists contribute – what do you look for in contributors?

Again, it’s mostly about attitude and ethos. We’ve had ambient mixes, breaks, live sets and more. Techno is hugely varied and we want to represent it in all of its forms if we can.

We recently launched a new Apogee Live series as well where we upload sets from the parties, as a way of showing people what to expect without resorting to polished promo videos.

You’ve also got a monthly slot on Netil Radio, could you tell us a bit about how you approach radio and if this approach differs much from your nights?

Netil doubles up as both a chance to showcase what we play on the nights as well as being an opportunity to play the weirder records in our collections that may not always get to see the light of day. Low Company is my local record store and where I buy most of my collection, the staff are amazing when it comes to recommendations and have introduced me to some amazing DIY electronics releases. Some of them could be loosely classed as “home listening” and Netil is a great opportunity to give them a run out.

I was lucky to get involved with the station soon after they launched and I love what the guys have done with regards to programming. It’s something I’m very happy to be a part of!

“Some of the best memories with Apogee come from the first parties in Loughborough, like when we lugged two speaker stacks down into a dilapidated skittles alley below a pub-“

Could you tell us a bit about the residents? How does having a solid core of regular DJs impact the night?

The residents are the core of what we do, Goat & Pete have been with me since day one in Loughborough, and I met Eddie through Pete later on when they both worked at Corsica. Pete and Eddie play together as A Lesson in Physical Education on the nights.

I trust all three of them implicitly and make sure to always mix up the programming, giving everyone an opportunity to play the warm up, peak time and closing. I look forward to their sets so much every time, they’re serious diggers and without them Apogee couldn’t exist. I think residents are so important to a night if you want it to have longevity. As I said earlier, I want people to feel like they can come to Apogee even if they have never heard of the headliner, and the residents play a huge part in making that happen.

You’ve hosted room 2 at Jaded and each of you has played a handful of times, has that infamous after party had any impact in shaping the Apogee vision?

Jaded is a massive inspiration to me, hosting the second room was a surreal experience for all of us as regular attendees and big fans of the nights. They stay cutting edge, constantly bringing in new talent alongside legendary names and every resident can throw it down up there with the best of them.

The people I met at Jaded have all been so passionate about music and the culture, not to mention being incredibly inclusive and happy to welcome anybody who can drag themselves along at that ungodly hour – it’s definitely had a huge impact on what I want our parties to be.

Any particularly memorable moments / experiences with the night?

Some of the best memories with Apogee come from the first parties in Loughborough, like when we lugged two speaker stacks down into a dilapidated skittles alley below a pub – they had to serve us through a sneaky hatch in the back door because they weren’t licensed beyond midnight. I think standing by the bar at Rye Wax during our first London party and watching VTSS slam it out to a sold out basement definitely has to take the top spot though.

Tell us what you have planned for your next party?

Next up sees COAL perform live on the 8th February in Rye Wax alongside our residents for their UK debut.

COAL is a new project formed of Ayarcana (of S.L.A.M and Parachute Records) and Oliver Kohlenberg (who has collaborated previously with Ansome). The duo have formed a bone crushing industrial unit, pairing twisted electronics with feral, distorted vocals. They’re affiliated with the Berlin based Instruments of Discipline crew – it’s going to be a spectacle to say the least, come down and dress to sweat.

Tickets are available for the next Apogee party here.